Friday, March 19, 2010

Week 7 Spring 2010 and other things

Well we are flying past the halfway point in the semester into the final decent to summer break. I am probably looking forward to that more this year than last. I have soooo much I need to do over the summer before the fall semester starts and I enter my 3rd year at PAFA and my teaching might start again at Uarts. I will have the summer packed to the gills with painting and drawing and of course my weekly dose of Judge Parker. The blog has been light lately due to the fact that a lot of what I'm working on I from am not at liberty to show yet. I'm working on some Tron material for Disney, a few comic jobs, Judge Parker and the recently finished painting for Robin Hood Kind of Sherwood for Cornerstone Books.

I'll be able to post the painting and my process in the next week or so once the book is for sale. People always ask me how I do so much work, well there is no real trick to it except to just sit and work 16-18 hours a day some days, some days even more. I had a few 2-3 hours of sleep days last week, its the nature of the beast and freelancing. the nature of the world today also forces you to really overbook yourself as counting on any one source for work is a pretty bad business model-and I got stung last year pretty bad on a project that threw my whole financial world in a tizzy, It was really the first time in my career I had something this bad happen and thanks to family and friends I was able to get through the stormy financial winter well.

The other factor is I've always cross trained in my career, i've always had a broad interest in art and cartooning, etc. I think the fact I do and that I also like to try and do everything I can has really helped me be a more versatile artist, not only stylistically--but mentally. There are some great artists out there, but you run a big risk in my book if you are really only good at one thing. If that one thing pays super-well, enough that if it went awy you'd be fine--ok, but also I think that is a quick way to stagnation.

I'm working on the 6th and 7th weeks of Judge Parker, and each week I feel like I'm getting more in sync with what I want to do. I'm still dickering around with lettering and now that I'm getting proofs back from the syndicate I will be making certain adjustments--but one really is always doing that to some degree. So far feedback has been good on what I've done on the first week, which is not my best work on the strip--that was like a cold start in winter on a car I'd never driven. If it was, say, Spider-man, or Corrigan I know those characters well so it would be a very familiar assignment. Again, this is the nature of being a freelance artist and needing to have the best drawing skills and to keep working on them all the time as they will serve you well on those cold starts and unfamiliar worlds.


Unknown said...


Enjoying what I am seeing so far on Judge Parker and for what is to come. Do you see evolving it to a more "old school" like Stan Drake or Alex Kotzky drew their strips in a "photo realism" style? Or how I saw Eduardo Barreto did with Judge Parker, which was to have kind of had a realism/noir/sexyness about it?

And, YES, your body of work speaks for itself. You definitely can do it all. Very impressed with your depth of talent.

Mike Manley said...

Rich, I don't know about my approach being photorealistic, realistic--yes. I will and have employed the use of photos, but really just for cars so far.

I am of the mind to do it realistically but the draw it without the use of lots of photos for a few reasons.
1) time
2) style
3) Crutch

While Drake and Starr did use photos they also drew a lot without the use of photos. Plus using photos can sap some energy and can end up making you a lazy thinker design wise. It also can add a lot of extra time/$$ into doing a strip if you must hire models and shoot pics.

Also the style of the strip from the beginning was not photorealistic. So my aim is to be realistic with solid design and good acting.

Lastly it can be a crutch and not an aid, I have seen this happen, the over use of pictures weakens the uniqueness of any artist's vision. my great friend Ricardo Villagran has a saying about this type of dependence, 'Where ends the photo, ends the artist".

Unknown said...


Great job so far. Looking forward to seeing more of your Judge Parker art.

I realize you probably have no free time, but I found this awesome Q&A interview with Frank McLaughlin, which he talks about his time in comics and his association with Stan Drake, Dick Giordano and many others. Plus, he speaks about his seven years as the artist on Gil Thorp. It's over at the Silver Age Sage site. Good stuff, if you have a few mintues to check it out.

CC said...


Just curious what you thought of the long 40+ year run that Harold LeDoux had on Judge Parker? Since most JP fans (like myself) grew up with his definition of how the characters should look, I didn't think I would warm to Barreto, but he far surpassed what I thought he would do with the strip. Revitalizing it for sure, like you said. Any thoughts on how you may evolve the strip, as compared to the LeDoux version of Judge Parker?

Mike Manley said...

Dom, thanks for the link, i'll check it out.

CC to be honest i don't really remember the HD version of JP. I'm sure I had spied it over the years at some point, from what I have seen of his work recently while gathering more background on the strip, his work was more in a sort of Caniff style. That 50's style now is so far out of fashion it's hard to relate to for me, as I really only know the strip through Eduardo's run.

I like Caniff, love Robbins. As you'll see over the next weeks and months the strip is becoming more my own take. And like I said in my interview on Comics Riffs, I don't think the difference between my work and Eduardo's will be jarring, we have many of the same root influences and are both realists in that regard. leDoux had a much more cartoony caniff school style,bold contours and splashie bold brush inking and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. It's interesting to know the history of the strip better but I don't think leDoux's style influence my take. if Eduardo had drawn the strip in LeDoux's style for his entire run, then I guess I would be trying my hand at it.

Unknown said...

Robbins work is awesome. I still have his work on the Shadow from the 70s. His women always had these intriguing, big eyes.

LeDoux's work on Judge Parker was very realistic in the 60s/70s. Dave Karlen has some of his stuff for sale which is all from that era and demonstrates how he did it back then...

Later in his years, I think the art became a little more cartoony in style and less realistic. Still good, but the transition to Barreto was eye opening, especially how Ed drew his speciality..."sexy chicks".

Best wishes on Judge Parker, Mike. I am sure you will more than do it "justice". Sorry, pun intended. LOL.

Anonymous said...


Unknown said...


I have been able to peek ahead to some of your JP work in week 3. Looks very good and a bit different than weeks 1 and 2. Very nice work on family, Sam, Sophie, Abbey Spencer and Marie, the maid. The lettering is the same as what Eduardo Barreto was using, too. Looks great!

Overall, you nailed the characters. Great job!